Look Out, Tesla: Luxury German Car Brands Pile Into Electric SUV Market

September 4, 2018, 11:21 AM UTC

German automakers once were laggards on the electrification front, but that image should now be firmly in the rear view mirror.

Tesla has a number of reasons to be worried. Mercedes-Benz will on Tuesday unveil the EQC model, its entry into the premium electric SUV market. Audi’s contender in the field, the e-tron that it announced three years ago, went into production on Monday. And even though it won’t be selling its electric iX3 SUV for another two years, BMW is reportedly already taking orders for the vehicle in Norway.

“While Tesla currently has a strong hold on the luxury electric market, I don’t think this will be the case after the arrival of the German premium offerings,” IHS Markit analyst Majih Hossenally told Reuters. “Tesla has virtually zero competition—but this will change from 2019 onwards.”

Reuters also noted that the LMC Automotive analyst house expects Tesla’s share of the electric-car market to shrink from 12.3% down to just 2.8% over the coming decade, despite a continuing rise in its sales. Meanwhile, LMC forecasts an 11.8% combined market share for the German car firms within just two years.

Mercedes released a teaser for the EQC a couple days ago, with the rather clever tagline: “Electric now has a Mercedes.”


The EQC will apparently have a 70kWh battery pack that can take the car “up to 500 kilometers”, or around 310 miles, using the NEDC range standard for Europe. The highest-specified Tesla Model X SUV is rated at 295 miles using the different EPA range standard for the U.S.; its NEDC rating is about 351 miles.

Meanwhile, Audi’s e-tron Quattro will have a 95kWh battery that provides a range of more than 310 miles, and BMW’s iX3 will use a battery with over 70kWh of capacity to achieve over 249 miles per charge. (Both are measured on the NEDC basis.)

In terms of price, the new Merc will reportedly be in the same range as Tesla’s $49,000 Model 3—though it is of course an SUV rather than a sedan, and the market is shifting toward SUVs. Tesla’s Model X starts at around $79,500.

So far, Audi has only announced German pricing for the e-tron Quattro: €80,000, or around $92,500. BMW’s iX3 still doesn’t have any pricing, although the company is asking for around $1,800 for those Norwegian reservations.

Correction, Sep. 10, 2018: An earlier version of this article improperly compared the ranges of the Mercedes-Benz EQC and Tesla Model X using two different range standards, those for the NEDC and EPA. The figures used in that comparison have been corrected and language in that section has been clarified.